ONCE UPON A TIME
Ribble Valley trained chef Nelly Robinson has caused quite a stir at his restaurant in Australia with his latest Disney inspired tasting menu
Chef Nelly Robinson has been making headlines in Australia as well as in the UK following the launch of his latest degustation dining experience at his restaurant nel. in Sydney.
Nelly began his career as a kitchen hand at the tender age of 14 at Michelin-starred Northcote in the Ribble Valley, before stepping into the kitchen full time at the age of 15 to start his apprenticeship.
Trained by chef Nigel Haworth and his team, including Warrick Dodds and Mark Burchill, Nelly was the first to complete an apprenticeship at Northcote.
At 29, he relocated to Australia and opened nel. a bunker-style space offering an intimate yet relaxed atmosphere. In the kitchens Nelly, who is celebrated for his contemporary interpretations of modern Australian dishes, is also inspired by past experiences within Michelin-starred venues in the UK. His robust understanding and appreciation of the best seasonal produce is showcased with a six-weekly changing seasonal degustation menu.
His attention to detail, especially when it comes to guest’s interaction with his menu, has earned him a loyal following of international and local guests.
Diners say his latest menu is his best yet with each course designed with a Disney film in mind. Starting with a Spoonful of Sugar from Mary Poppins and finishing with the Seven Moods of the Seven Dwarves in Snow White, the Once Upon a Time degustation menu has had guests overwhelmed with nostalgia!
One dish that has everyone talking is Bambi’s Mum. As children, one cannot forget the horror of the famous scene in Bambi, and chef Robinson wanted to ensure he included all of the most memorable Disney moments, not just the happy ones!
“I think everyone cried when Bambi’s mum got shot – well, I know I did,” he recalls. “I’ve watched every Disney movie that has ever been made and wanted to create a one-of-a-kind experience for my diners. Here, we make the most of the Bambi situation by cooking the venison slowly, rolling it in peppers and serving with beetroot and parsnip.”
A nel. degustation would not be complete without a little extra theatre with each course, and for the Bambi’s Mum course, guests are provided with rifle casings with a mix of seeds to sprinkle on their dish.
Other noteworthy dishes include Telling Porky Pies, which recreates the scene in Pinocchio where his nose grows. Nelly has created Pinnochio’s nose from a truffle and gougère, served with mushroom in a birdcage!
Some of the 11 dishes in this degustation include Under the Sea, which is a dish based on spanner crab and tomato bubbles with seaweed, Kiss the Tramp which is a potato pasta with a tomato, basil and pork meatball and Asante Sana Squash Banana which channels the loveable Rafiki from Lion King with a banana mousse, saffron banana, tamarind caramel, puffed wild rice and green apple sorbet.
The creativity is not reserved simply for the menu either, with a gorgeous mandarin tea being served in a Beauty and the Beast Chip mug.
Nelly’s next degustation after Once Upon a Time will be Great British Pub Classics, where Nelly will be recreating the best of the best from his home country!